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NASA’s Commercial Crew Program Heads into Pivotal Year

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HAWTHORNE, Calif. – The Dragon test article is displayed at SpaceX Headquarters. It will be used for upcoming testing. (Credit: SpaceX)

NASA Press Release

Several companies, working closely with NASA, ended 2013 with an impressive string of achievements to build on in 2014 as the American aerospace industry continues to develop and demonstrate commercial human spaceflight capabilities with the potential to support both commercial and government customers.

The year will be pivotal for NASA’s Commercial Crew Program (CCP) as the agency looks to announce one or more awards by August for Commercial Crew Transportation Capability (CCtCap) contracts that would lead to operational crewed flights to the International Space Station. NASA intends to use new commercial systems to fly U.S. astronauts to and from the station within the next three years.

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Video Update From NASA on Commercial Crew Progress

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Video Caption: NASA’s Commercial Crew Program and its aerospace partners are putting in the time and energy to make the innovations needed to power America’s next generation of human spacecraft destined to launch from American soil to low-Earth orbit. Through Space Act Agreements with the program, Blue Origin, Boeing, Sierra Nevada Corporation and SpaceX are achieving milestones, moving the country closer to domestic crewed access to space.

Boeing Commercial Crew Milestones Update

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CST-100 engine test

CST-100 engine test

Boeing’s Commercial Crew Milestones Status
Award Period: August 2012 – August 2014
Total Milestones: 20
Milestones Completed: 13
Milestones Awaiting NASA Acceptance: 2
Total: $377.2 Million Out of $480 Million

Boeing has completed 13 of 20 milestones under its current commercial crew contract for a total of $377.2 million out of $480 million.

The company has completed two additional milestones — Launch Vehicle Adapter Critical Design Review and Emergency Detection System (EDS) Standalone Testing — for which it awaiting NASA’s acceptance. These milestones are worth $13.5 million and $13.8 million, respectively, for a total of $27.3 million.

Boeing plans to complete five additional milestones in 2014, culminating with the Spacecraft Safety Review this summer. The CCiCAP program culminates in August.
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U.S. Launch Companies at Crossroads in 2014

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Cygnus is released from the International Space Station. (Credit: NASA)

Cygnus is released from the International Space Station. (Credit: NASA)

Part 2 of 2

By Douglas Messier
Parabolic Arc Managing Editor

Editor’s Note: In Part 1, we took a look at the highly successful year that all three U.S. launch providers had in 2013.  Today, we will look at the challenges ahead for each company.

Coming off a stellar year, each of America’s three launch providers — Orbital Sciences Corporation, SpaceX and United Launch Alliance (ULA) — finds itself in a distinctly different place and facing unique challenges. The coming year could begin to significantly remake the global launch market, with significant consequences for all three players and rival providers overseas.

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Commercial Crew Companies Stay on Track for Milestone Completions

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NASA_commercial_crew_milestones_dec2013WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — NASA’s Commercial Crew Program partners continue to meet all scheduled milestones, bringing the nation closer to its goal of having a U.S. capability for human access to space and ending reliance on foreign vehicles.

SpaceX recently completed five milestones:

  • The Human Certification Plan Review, which laid out SpaceX’s plans for certification of the design of the spacecraft, launch vehicle, and ground and mission operations systems.
  • The On-Orbit and Entry Preliminary Design Review, which successfully demonstrated that the overall system preliminary design for orbit, rendezvous and docking with the ISS and entry light regimes met the company’s requirements with acceptable risks and within schedule constraints.
  • The In-Flight Abort Test Review, which demonstrated the maturity of the in-flight abort test article design and the concept of operations for the abort test.
  • The Safety Review, which demonstrated the crew transportation system design and SpaceX processes.
  • The Falcon 9 Flight Review, which demonstrated Falcon 9 launch vehicle performance, including structures, dynamics, propulsion, avionics and software.

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NASA Holds Commercial Crew Pre-proposal Conference

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nasa_commercial_crew_spacesuit
By Steven Siceloff
Kennedy Space Center, Fla.

The first US companies to launch people into space from American soil may have been in the room Wednesday when NASA officials discussed an upcoming opportunity that culminates with operational missions carrying astronauts to the International Space Station (ISS).

A pre-proposal conference by NASA’s Commercial Crew Program (CCP) at the agency’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida occurred approximately two weeks after CCP asked for proposals from aerospace companies that would lead to crewed missions to the ISS in 2017 or earlier.

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New CST-100 Engine Test

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CST-100 engine test

CST-100 engine test

An Aerojet Rocketdyne engine burns hot during a test for the Boeing Company’s CST-100. The engine produced 40,000 lbs of thrust Tuesday.

Boeing Finalizes Agreement on CST-100 Processing Facility

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High Bay of KSC facility used to manufacture Boeing CST-100 spacecraft.

High Bay of KSC facility used to manufacture Boeing CST-100 spacecraft. (Credit: Boeing)

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla., Oct. 22, 2013 (Boeing PR) – Boeing has finalized an agreement with Space Florida to use a processing facility at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center to build the Crew Space Transportation (CST)-100 spacecraft, an important step toward restoring the United States’ ability to launch humans into space.

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ISPCS Panel: When Government is Ready to Buy

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ispcs_logoISPCS Panel Discussion
When Government is Ready to Buy…

Moderator: Wayne Hale

Speakers:

  • John Mulholland, Vice President/ Program Manager, Boeing Commercial Programs
  • Mike Pinkston, Senior Vice President, Antares Program, Orbital Sciences Corporation
  • Lee “Bru” Archambault, Director of Flight Operations, Dream Chaser Program, Sierra Nevada Corporation
  • Andrew Aldrin, DIrector of Business Development, United Launch Alliance

TWEETS

  • Former astronaut Michael “LA” Lopez-Alegria introducing the next panel: “When Government is Ready to Buy…” #ISPCS pic.twitter.com/blQKjXxWnF (Suzi Gordon ‏@suzigordon)
  • Now up at #ISPCS. Panel on “When government is Ready to Buy.” @waynehale moderator. He has really flourished in post-NASA career. (Alan Ladwig ‏@SpaceArtAl)
  • Note to self: quit talking about how #ISS PARTNERSHIP deserves Noble Peace Prize & find way to make it happen! (Alan Ladwig ‏@SpaceArtAl)

ISPCS Keynote Address: John Elbon of Boeing

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ispcs_logoKeynote Address
John Elbon
Vice President and General Manager
Boeing Space Exploration

  • Day 2 of #ISPCS: John Elbon of Boeing speaking about #ISS exploration now and in the future (Suzi Gordon ‏@suzigordon)
  • John Elbon @Boeing – America supports our space program, but they quickly forget while in the fog of govt shut-downs and the like. (Larry Strader ‏@Strader411)
  • @Boeing’s John Elbon begins his #ISPCS keynote with discussion of #ISS – which he began working on in 1986 with Gerst (Kay Anderson ‏@SpaceRiter)
  • ‏John Elbon @Boeing – @ISS_Research is key to fostering commercial crew and cargo. (Larry Strader ‏@Strader411)
  • Elbon: #ISS is the heart and soul of what we are doing in space right now and the jumping off point for future space exploration. (ISPCS ‏@ISPCS)